(Woohoo! We have wireless!)
The day after we visited the Schloss, we took the Harz narrow-gauge railway up to the tallest peak in northern Germany, the Brocken. The vintage train wound its way through seemingly endless swathes of evergreen forest, the fog getting heavier as we ascended. You could totally see why there are so many legends about witchcraft in the area.
As we figured, the journey was far more enjoyable than the destination itself. The Brocken is not an attractive mountain—it reminds you of a bald man's pate more than anything else—and there's a transmission tower and hotel up there to boot. There was so much rain and fog when we got up there that all we could see were a couple of souvenir stands (with instant coffee at outrageous prices) and a 'restaurant' right beside the train station. We went to the loo and got straight back on the train for the return trip.
On the way back, we got off at Schierke and walked through the forest and into the village looking for a café, which was more of a challenge than we were expecting—plenty of eateries but none of them open. Finally found a nice little bakery-café where we got coffee and some sweet nibbly things.
After coffee and a bit of shopping in town (Ritter Sport chocolate for 85¢, weeeeeeeeeeeee!), we made our way back to the station through the forest, and took the next train back to Wernigerode. It was a really fun day, with the air of a field trip about it.
Oh, and here's the view out our hotel window:
If you're ever in Wernigerode, stay at the Hotel Zur Post on Marketstrasse. It's family-run, everyone there is really friendly (they don't speak more than a few words of English, but they were so patient with us as we tried to speak the dozen words of German we had between us), and the restaurant food was top-notch (and very veggie-friendly).
Next post: Quedlinburg!